Cover image




Art Installation


British Pavilion - 18th La Biennale di Venezia Architettura 2023


British Council


Fabrication — Jamps

Design Team

Madhav Kidao




Bardo is an artwork commissioned by the British Council for the British Pavilion at the 18th Venice Biennale of Architecture 2023. The piece was one of 5 commissioned works part of the exhibition DANCING BEFORE THE MOON - a celebration of diasporic rituals and making practices, which was awarded the Special Mention prize.

The monotheistic, and by extension western, understanding of death is the finality of something: everything has a beginning and an end (a birth and a death). By contrast, within Hinduism, Buddhism and other ancient belief systems, everything exists within a continuum; humans are merely elements within an expansive, interwoven system.

This thinking is embedded in Bardo, an object exploring rituals of death through the inheritance, destruction and reincarnation of cultural artefacts. Made by melting down and recasting Between Forests and Skies, a Nebbia Works low carbon aluminium pavilion commissioned by the Victoria & Albert museum in 2021, it embodies the concept of punarmṛtyu (Sanskrit for ‘re-death’) through the creation of one form from the destruction of another. It reminds us that cultures, spaces and objects can all be circular and infinite, and that we are connected to all the things around us.

Comprising a series of aluminium panels, iteratively cast around each other to create a fluid and integrated patterned surface, it reflects ideas of material and structural interdependence. The textures on the surface have been manipulated by the sand that it was cast in.

From the Tibetan, Bardo may be translated literally as "the Between," with two primary meanings. The most general meaning is the intermediate state in Tibetan Buddhism, after death but before rebirth. The second, more technical meaning is the set of "six betweens": (1)"(ordinary) life," which is between physical birth and physical death; (2) "dream," which falls between waking and deep sleep; (3) contemplation," which is between regular consciousness and transcendent awareness; (4) "the death point," the hyperconscious period between physical death and existence in an energy body; (5) "reality," which comes between the death point and falling into a new rebirth; and (6) "becoming," which is between the "reality" phase of death and physical conception. Three of these six Bardos are found during physical life; three are found in the afterdeath process.

Photography — Taran Wilkhu, Nebbia